Amaechi Seeks Lawmakers’ Support on Amendment of Moribund Maritime Laws

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By Eromosele Abiodun

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has urged the House of Representatives to support the ministry’s efforts to review and amend moribund laws and regulations guiding the management and operations of the maritime sector.

Amaechi stated this over the weekend while speaking at a two-day retreat of the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways in Lagos.

Amaechi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakare said the review and amendment of the laws would make them not only relevant but also capable of handling current challenges and developments in the industry.

Amaechi also asked for adequate allocation in annual budgets for the implementation of critical maritime projects and programmes towards the realisation of the change agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

According to him, “In this respect, the honourable members may wish to be informed that currently, several states governments in the federation have enacted legislations which are in conflict with the powers conferred on the federal government for the management and operations of ports and the inland waterways.”

In his speech, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the transport sector is vital to the diversification and growth of the Nigerian economy.

He therefore, called for a suitable synergy between the legislature and the executive foe a sustainable partnership between the two arms of government.

Dogara, who  spoke through  the Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Mr.  Paley Eriase pointed out that the present economic recession is undoubtedly taking its toll on Nigeria adding that all hands must be on deck to support the government in its determined efforts to create and propel other sources of revenue to boost the economy.

He said: “I am happy to say that we in the legislature are fully committed to giving maximum support to the timely passage of the 2017 budget so that implementation of the projects of the Federal Ministry of Transportation can commence.  Let me use this opportunity to comment Mr President for the giant strides he has made in the transport sector within a short time, especially in the rehabilitation and revitalisation of the rail infrastructure as disclosed by oversight reports.”

The Nigerian ports and the maritime sector, he said, has the potential to sustain the economy adding that the present administration is doing a lot to reposition the sector.

He added: “It is truly heart-warming that the industry stakeholders have finally agreed on the importance and inevitability of an economic regulator as evidenced in public hearing the house conducted on the National Transport Commission Bill. One of the decisions that should come out of this retreat is the shape and form of an industry regulator and the need or otherwise of the National Transport Commission.”

On his part, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, Patrick Asadu said the retreat will arm members with the real time knowledge needed to revisit the relevant laws by way of amendments so as to bring them up to speed with international standards, “with the specific aim of re-engineering our nation al economy through the maritime industry.”

He added that the leadership and members of the House of Representatives are determined to conclude all outstanding transport sector bills pending before the house, especially those related to the maritime sector.

“The committee attaches importance to the key issues in the pending laws and the soon to be concluded NTC Establishment Bill which public hearing had long been concluded and report prepared to be laid before the house upon resumption, “he said.